Moderna says updated COVID shot boosts omicron protection

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06-08-2022

Moderna's experimental COVID-19 vaccine that combines its original shot with protection against the omicron variant appears to work, the company announced Wednesday. COVID-19 vaccine makers are studying updated boosters that might be offered in the fall to better protect people against future coronavirus surges. Moderna's preliminary study results show people given the combination shot experienced an eight-fold increase in virus-fighting antibodies capable of targeting the omicron mutant, the company announced. They’re still providing strong protection against severe disease, hospitalization and death even after the appearance of the super-contagious omicron variant — especially if people have had a booster dose. Key questions: How to make that change without losing the continued strong protection against COVID-19’s worst outcomes?

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But the omicron variant has mutated so quickly that several new subvariants have emerged that are even better at evading the immune system’s defenses. Even if the updated booster provides less protection against later omicron subvariants than against BA.1, it will probably still be more effective against them than the company’s existing booster, Moderna President Stephen Hoge said. AdvertisementSoon after the omicron variant was identified in South Africa late last year, Moderna said it was developing shots specifically designed to fight the variant. Pfizer and BioNTech announced the same plan, although they have not yet released data on their updated vaccine. Globally, new coronavirus cases are still declining after the omicron variant triggered tens of millions of new cases worldwide, driving up infections during the winter.